US policies abroad

Talk is cheap, so they say. Yet, unfortunately, talking endlessly to the Japanese about their protectionist trade policies has been anything but cheap. In fact, it's been outrageously expensive, to the tune of $37 billion in trade deficits last year alone. Mr. Douglas MacArthur II's explanation of ``Shogun politics: the root of Japanese protectionism'' (March 14) may be well intended, but it ignores the obvious. Ever since his own uncle engaged Japan militarily during World War II, it's been clear that words alone are often not enough to protect America's interests. Congress is arriving at a new ``consensus'' about Japan: It's time to fight for fair trade; to step up our efforts, to insist on it. Sen. Robert W. Kasten Jr. Washington

I am concerned with the causes and probable consequences of Greek President Constantine Caramanlis's resignation, ``US sees Greek ties to the West slipping'' (March 14). The exit of the man largely responsible for Greece's recovery from economic and civil strife in the 1950s and '60s, and later for its return to democracy after nearly seven years of martial law, raises questions about the nation's future. Many have regarded Caramanlis as the curbing force to the leftist policies of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. Since coming to power in 1981, Papandreou and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement have made evident their aims for a more independent Greece, following the Mitterrand prototype. Now, with Caramanlis gone, a definite shift to the left appears to be mounting in Greece. Papandreou's threats of closing US military bases and withdrawing from NATO and the EC may actually happen unless these movements are checked.

The article points out the US Defense Department's tendency to ``call the Papandreou government's bluff'' and to follow a policy of ``pressure without ultimatum.'' I am not convinced that Greece's dependency on the US for economic aid is sufficient in itself to warrant this seemingly self-assured approach. The US government should take an active part in ensuring that all possible measures be undertaken to preserve democracy in Greece. It certainly would be a shame to see a political realignment in our eastern Mediterranean ally so soon after its return to NATO's military wing. William B. Veazey Chapel Hill, N.C.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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